7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Colonial Gardening by Lisa Norato

In southern New England from whence I hail, the spirit and history of colonial gardening is kept alive in living museums, public historic houses, parks and memorials. Gardening is a timeless pursuit of great interest and reward. Who doesn’t look forward to a little digging in the dirt come springtime? In our country’s earliest days, however, gardening was a necessary part of daily life. Every home, whether in town or country, had a garden. They ranged from the most modest dooryard gardens (that is, small garden plots literally located just outside the front door) to beautiful, sprawling acres like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Park. They provided sustenance for the family, were cultivated for medicinal purposes and provided the pleasure of fresh flowers which even the poorest of Colonial women could enjoy.

The Plymouth Pilgrims were introduced to local crops by the Wampanoag Indians. Without them, the early settlers might not have survived the winter. These Native Americans taught them many techniques, including a highly effective method of gardening called The Three Sisters. A Three Sisters garden begins with the planting of corn, which could be eaten off the cob or ground into flour. Once the stalks grew, pole beans were sown beside them where they would climb the stalks as opposed to spreading across the ground. This procedure not only conserved space but added nitrogen to the soil. Squash planting followed—anything from pumpkins to crookneck to acorn squashes. The vines encircled the corn and beans, acting as living mulch to help conserve water and control the growth of weeds, while their bristles helped repel hungry critters.

Every home from poor to middle class to gentry had its own kitchen garden for the family’s everyday use. These produced all manner of vegetables and herbs, sometimes even flowers, all crowed together so as not to spare one of inch of soil. Lamb’s Quarter was popular during this time, though is rarely to be found on our modern dinner plates. Today this leafy green is treated as a weed and discarded, but in early America it was commonly consumed for its rich nutritional value and a taste similar to that of spinach. 

Gardening was also a rare way in which a Colonial woman could earn a livelihood. Seedswomen traded in flower and vegetable seeds and many advertised in local newspapers such as The Boston Evening Post. For other women, gardening was a way to alleviate some of the homesickness they felt when they came to the New World by planting seeds and roots common to their homelands, such as the English Rose.

In addition to plant life, gardens would sometimes include a beehive or dove-cote or perhaps even a heavy leaden sundial which would stand for generations. Many were inscribed, like this one owned by a Dr. Bowditch of Boston, which I'll leave you with in parting:

“With warning hand I mark time’s rapid flight
From life’s glad morning to its solemn night.
And like God’s love, I also show
There’s light above me, by the shade below.”

Lisa Norato is the author of Prize of My Heart, an inspirational seafaring historical from Bethany House. A life-long New Englander, Lisa lives in a historic village with homes and churches dating as far back as the eighteenth century.

Tools of the Trade: Nonfiction Books - Washington's Spies

by Roseanna White

I'll confess it from the start--I don't read much non-fiction. Why? Because I read so much of it during college that I just got burned out on it. But apparently it's now been long enough since then (where did that time go, anyway?) that I can read it again without feeling at all put out about it. Handy, since in looking up info about the subject of my newest idea, I came across a very interesting-sounding book that I knew would be helpful: Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose.

My library didn't have this one, but thanks to the wonders of ILL, they had it for me in three days, and I cracked it open with genuine enthusiasm. I haven't read any non-fiction on the Revolutionary War since college (and then it was more political treatises of the era, not history of the war), so I found this to be a wonderful refresher on the history in general. Better still, it focused entirely on the use of espionage in the war, by both sides. And really, what could be more fun than that? ;-)

Rose doesn't follow a strict chronology in this--he follows stories, usually about the particular people, and uses those to take him from point to point. Which means you know exactly where to flip back to if you need to remind yourself about where someone was born, or who his father was, but locating a date for a particular action of his requires the help of the index.

The writing of this book was never dry and at times downright witty. I actually chuckled at several places. And at several others I found it necessary to interrupt my reading to share a particularly interesting factoid with my hubby. Mr. Rose found many ways to integrate little-known facts from the day that only had the smallest thing to do with the main subject; and he integrated them in such a way that you knew without doubt he had submersed himself fully in this era as he wrote the book. Something I, as I writer, certainly appreciate.

I did find a few typos in the dates given, like saying something happened in 1778 that happened in 1780. Typos, which I understand, but which confused me endlessly, LOL.

Overall, if you're a history buff who loves reading about lesser-known portions of well-loved times, this is a fabulous book. It presents a fair, honest picture of what life was like from 1776-1784, not embellished by glamorous ideas or romance.

But no worries--I plan to embellish with plenty of romance when I write a novel set in the time. ;-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

General Baron de Kalb and The Battle of Camden, SC

General Baron de Kalb
By Susan F. Craft

General Baron DeKalb was born in Germany in 1721. He served with distinction  in the French Army during the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War.
In 1768 on behalf of France, he traveled to America on a covert mission to determine the level of discontent amongst colonists.
In 1777, he returned with his protégé, the Marquis de Lafayette, and joined the Continental Army.
On August 16, 1780, five miles north of Camden, SC, British forces under Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis defeated the American forces under the command of Major General Horatio Gates.
Gates had over 4,000 men, but only 2,000 were effective for combat. Many succumbed to the heat and also the night before, the men had been fed green corn, causing many to suffer bowel problems.
Lt. General Lord Cornwallis
Cornwallis had around 2,100 men. Six hundred were Loyalist militia and Volunteers of Ireland, and 1,500 were regular troops. Cornwallis also had the infamous and highly experienced Tarleton's Legion, around 250 cavalry and 200 infantry.
The British troops opened the battle by firing a volley into the militia, followed by a bayonet charge. The militia, lacking bayonets, panicked and ran away. The panic spread to the North Carolina militia, and they also fled.  Gates bolted with the first of the militia to run from the field and took refuge 60 miles away in Charlotte, NC. Before he ran, he ordered his right flank under General Baron de Kalb to attack the British militia.
Under de Kalb, the Continentals fought hard, but they numbered only 600 to 2,000 British troops. Cornwallis ordered Tarleton's cavalry to charge the rear of the Continental line. The cavalry charge broke up the formation of the Continental troops.
De Kalb tried to rally his men but was fatally wounded.
After only one hour of combat, the Americans were utterly defeated, suffering over 2,000 casualties. Tarleton's cavalry pursued and harried the retreating Continental troops for 20 miles.
The Battle of Camden, SC
The terrible route for the Americans at the Battle of Camden strengthened the British hold on the Carolinas that were already reeling from the capture of Charleston, SC, by General Sir Henry Clinton in January 1780.
Here’s how Andrew, a character in my novel, The Chamomile, described General de Kalb.
You see, General de Kalb wasn’t one of those officers that puts space between him and his men. He was one of us. Most times when we traveled, he didn’t ride his horse, but marched along beside us. Came around each night and shared the food and fire. Slept on the ground with us. And stories? He could tell some of the best stories. Knew how to share silence too.
At Camden, we were pretty much beaten. Six hundred of us to their two thousand. De Kalb sent his horse to the back of the lines early on, so he could fight side by side with us on foot. Time after time we charged, reformed, and charged again with the general leading the way.
Someone laid his head open with a saber. He was shot. Bayoneted. Cut many times. But he still led one more charge. When the general finally fell, we closed ranks around him. Then Tarleton brought in his dragoons. We fought as long as we could, until most of us broke and ran.
I was running for the woods with the rest of them, but I turned in time to see British soldiers headed toward the general to finish him off. They would have, too, but his aide, Chevalier de Buysson, threw his body on top of him and yelled, "No! No! It’s de Kalb. Brigadier General de Kalb."

Cornwallis ordered his own surgeons to try and save de Kalb.
Death of de Kalb
Here is de Kalb’s response, “I thank you sir for your generous sympathy, but I die the death I always prayed for; the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.”
When the general died three days later, Cornwallis found out he was a Mason, same as himself. He had him buried with full military and Masonic honors.
Years later, on a tour of South Carolina, President George Washington visited the grave of DeKalb and is reported to have said the following, “So there lies the brave de Kalb; the generous stranger who came from a distant land to fight our battles and to water with his blood the tree of our liberty. Would to God he had lived to share with us its fruits.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Diana Flowers Reviews Laura Frantz's "Love's Reckoning"

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz

Love's Reckoning 
(Revell, 2012)
5 stars~ *****
Riveting Historical Fiction!
In Love's Reckoning, Laura Frantz has penned a gripping, literary saga of the Ballantyne Legacy--a legacy that begins with lies, deceit, and treachery, but ends with what many waters cannot quench--an undying love that knows no bounds.
Silas Ballantyne has come to York, Pennsylvania, to finish out his remaining time of apprenticeship under the tutelage of master blacksmith, Liege Lee. Liege insists that Silas marry one of his two beautiful daughters, with the underlying motive of having a second man of such talent working with him at the forge to obtain more wealth. Silas, carrying deep, hidden wounds from his native Scotland, only wishes to finish out his time and move west to Fort Pitt, and has no desire for a wife.
Eden and Elspeth Lee are as different as night and day; Eden with a quiet, gentle spirit, and beautiful Elspeth, who is plucky, seductive, and has a great head for business. Both feel drawn to the handsome, new apprentice, and soon jealousy and manipulation begins to rear its ugly head. Unbidden secrets come to the surface as both sisters fight for the man they love, but will Silas fulfill his dream and leave them both behind?...or will he finally find love and healing for his tormented soul? And when one of the sisters finds herself in terrible danger, that threatens to tear her very soul asunder, will her chance at love be lost forever?
Laura Frantz has done it again! This story is a literary masterpiece, that left me feeling almost unworthy to review. As in all of Ms. Frantz's books, there is that element of uncertainty...how can there ever be a happy ending here, or will there be one? With realistic characters, and a spiritual thread throughout this is a must read for all historical fiction lovers! I literally cried all the way (happy and sad tears) throughout this book, so be sure to keep the tissues handy. With its many twists and turns that Laura is so well known for, and a marvelous surprise conclusion, this is definitely one for your keeper shelf! Oh, and I almost forgot to mentioned the swoonworthy romance scenes that left me covered in goosebumps! 

Very nicely done--again, Laura Frantz!

Bio: Diana L. Flowers is the Senior Reviewer on Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help. Diana has shared many of her wonderful reviews with the Colonial Quills staff. Thank you Diana!!!

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email to be entered in this week’s contest.  Drawing will be late Saturday.  Your choice of Laura's books, choice of format*. Void where prohibited by law. *International winners will only receive the book in ebook format not as a paperback.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Action, Not Commission Makes an Officer/Christian

Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Address to the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, Jan. 8, 1756

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

Recently, friends of ours from Oklahoma came by for a visit. What a wonderful time of fellowship we had. For me, there is no greater time than when believers share with each other the glorious works of God in their lives. Skip politics. Skip sports talk. Go directly to testimonies.

One thing became clear in our discussion, we were in agreement: the Christian life is about discovering God and all that He is, and in so doing, bringing Him pleasure.

Many place upon themselves the title "Christian" and stop there. But being a Christian is so much more than wearing a title.
"...And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Acts 11:26

So who were these people who were called Christians? What set them a part from the Jews and other religions?
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of a virgin of the line of David, a king of Israel, came to offer Himself in our place for the payment for our sins.
This man, Jesus, had many people who followed Him while He was on earth. He died on the cross, was buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day. He did this so that those who believe in Him (that He is the Son of God, that He did die in our place, was buried, and rose again) would be reconciled to God, being saved from the eternal damnation brought to them by their sin (those bad things we do like lie, steal, cheat, etc.).
The people who were first called Christians in Antioch were people who believed this. Some of these people knew Jesus personally when He lived on earth. Some of these people heard the stories or listened to the sermons preached by men who knew Jesus personally. All of them would be those who turned from their old beliefs of God or gods to believe that salvation of a person's soul comes from faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What visible distinction would these people have? How they acted out their faith.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24
When we deny ourselves we become dead to the lusts (the desires for pleasure) that rule our bellies. When we follow Christ, the life which we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). We gain an extra measure of His grace. We become filled with the knowledge of His will and gain the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 
"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to the working of His might power,
"Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places," Ephesians 1:18-20
 The time with our friends was a time of rejoicing and building one another up, of communing in the Spirit with fellow believers. They were to us examples of Christian officers in action not in title. And I pray that we were so to them.

To God be all glory and honor and praise.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
II Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Drawing Winner!

Anne Love is the lucky winner of our drawing for a copy of Crucible of War, Book 4 of the American Patriot Series! Congratulations, Anne! My email addy is in my reply to your comment on the post, and as soon as I have your contact information, the book will be on its way to you!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When Congress Fled

Today it’s hard for us to think of the possibility that our government might ever be forced to flee before an approaching enemy force. But this has, in fact, happened several times in our history, and the first was during the American Revolution.

Delegates to the Second Continental Congress—which after the passage of the Declaration of Independence became the Congress of the fledgling United States—met at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, now known as Independence Hall. In the fall of 1776, the British drove Washington’s battered army out of New York, all the way across New Jersey to Trenton, and finally, in early December, across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Terrified that British General William Howe would pursue Washington across the Delaware and push all the way to Philadelphia, residents of the city began to flee in panic, and on December 12, Congress also evacuated.

On December 20, the delegates reconvened at the Henry Fite House in Baltimore, Maryland, where they remained until late February 1777. The largest building in Baltimore at the time, the Fite House was originally built as a tavern in 1770 and eventually burned down in 1904. During its brief use by Congress, it became known as Congress Hall and later as Old Congress Hall. Thus Baltimore became the nation’s capital for a two-month period. While meeting here on December 27, 1776, Congress conferred upon George Washington “extraordinary powers for the conduct of the Revolutionary War,” making him essentially a military dictator. Thankfully he proved to be worthy of their trust by always deferring to Congress’s control.

Instead of attacking Philadelphia, however, Howe settled into winter quarters, and Congress returned to the city on March 4, 1777. They continued to meet at the Pennsylvania State House until September 19, 1777, after Washington’s defeat at Brandywine Creek, which left Philadelphia once again vulnerable to British attack. In book 4 of my American Patriot Series, Crucible of War, I included the scenes of panic that took place while the American and British armies essentially played a chess match, while Howe progressively tightened the noose around Philadelphia. I was delighted to find a number of eyewitness accounts of those tense days to lend accuracy and vividness to my descriptions.

According to an account by loyalist resident Sarah Fisher, “ . . . two nights ago the city was alarmed about two o’clock with a great knocking at people’s doors & desiring them to get up, that the English had crossed the Swedes ford at 11 o’clock & would presently be in the city. . . . wagons rattling, horses galloping, women running, children crying, delegates flying, & altogether the greatest consternation, fright & terror that can be imagined. Some of our neighbors took their flight before day, & I believe all the Congress moved off before 5 o’clock, but behold when morning came, it proved a false alarm. The English had only made their appearance opposite the Swedes ford, & some of our people whose fears had magnified it into a reality that they had crossed brought the alarm to town, & terror & dismay spread itself amongst them. Thus the guilty fly when none pursue.”

On the patriot side, congressional delegate John Adams wrote that “At 3 this Morning [September 19] was waked by Mr. Lovell, and told that the Members of Congress were gone, some of them, a little after Midnight. That there was a letter from Mr. Hamilton Aid de Camp to the General, informing that the Enemy were in Poss[essio]n of the Ford and the Boats, and had it in their power to be in Philadelphia, before Morning, and that if Congress was not removed they had not a Moment to loose. Mr. Merchant and myself arose, sent for our Horses, and, after collecting our Things, rode off after the others.”

On September 27 Congress convened at the courthouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then removed to York, Pennsylvania, where they held their first meeting at the courthouse on September 30. In November, Congress approved the Articles of Confederation at York and submitted them to the States for ratification. The Articles went into effect on March 1, at which time Congress became the Congress of the Confederation. After the British withdrew from Philadelphia in June 1778, Congress reconvened at College Hall in Philadelphia on July 2 before once more making their home at the State House.

Considering the internal strife taking place in so many countries today, the United States has experienced very few disruptions of our government due to war since our inception. We truly have been extraordinarily blessed to have God’s hand of protection over us, and I pray that this nation will never turn away from the One who has given us such favor.

Now, since I inadvertently posted a day late, I’m offering a surprise drawing for those who stop by to comment. I just received my first copies of Crucible of War a couple of days ago, and those who make a comment on this post will be entered in a drawing for a free copy! The ebook edition is already available, but the print edition doesn’t release until September 3. You have until Friday at midnight to leave a comment, and please specify whether you’d like the ebook edition (Kindle, Nook, or CBD) or the print edition.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pre-release giveaway for Love's Reckoning!

It's wonderful to be celebrating a new release with readers here and give a behind the pages look at this book. Thanks so much for joining me! If you'd like to be in the giveaway for a signed, first edition copy of Love's Reckoning, please leave a comment below with your email address! 

Here are a few questions readers have asked about the book:

How did the idea for Love's Reckoning come to you?
I stumbled upon a bit of research that said gunsmith apprentices in Kentucky were expected to marry the master gunsmith's daughter. I was so intrigued by this and added a bit more angst to that fact by having two daughters. Both fall in love with the same man and he has to choose between them.

What research did you do for the novel?
I traveled to Pennsylvania and spent time in Philadelphia (the old city) and also Pittsburgh, both of which figure in this story. And I relied on a great many research books to add depth and authenticity.

How did you choose your character names?
Eden is much like her name - lovely and lush. Elspeth sounds a bit mischievous which fits her personality and was also very common to that time period. Silas, of course, is Biblical and sounds strong and manly, appropriate for a blacksmith. Ballantyne, his surname, is an old Scots name that isn't very common but sounds gallant, or so I hope!

Who is the cover designer and model?
Brandon Hill from Seattle. He's a remarkable designer/photographer who has created quite a few CBA and ABA covers. I'm so thrilled with his work. He's very hands on and even sent me via Revell a portfolio of period dresses and bonnets to choose from.

Is this book part of a series or a stand-alone novel?
This is the first book in a 4 book series spanning 100 years of 4 generations of the Ballantyne family.

Do you have a favorite character or scene?
I'll admit I am smitten with Silas but I tend to do that with all my heroes! As for a favorite scene, I love, love, love Chapter 32. But no spoilers for you:)!

Do you have any other questions about Love's Reckoning?
I'll be happy to answer them!

Please leave a question/comment below with your email address if you'd like to be entered in the giveaway! Thanks!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Destiny Has Control of Our Actions, George Washington

There is a Destiny which has the control of our actions, not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Mrs. George William Fairfax, Sep. 12, 1758

"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Two weeks ago my kids and I pulled all items from the loft in our garage. The treasurers of our past brought me back to the thoughts and feelings of those days. Grandma's old chair reminded me of her living room and Christmases spent with family. Grandma's sewing machine reminded me of my desire to learn to sew thwarted by my tremendous lack of patience. And ribbons. Some I don't remember how I won. Each taking me back to the day when I lived and breathed horses. Years ago my husband threw out my medals and trophies (a tremendous sin on his part that I never fail to remind him of whenever the opportunity arises--all in fun, of course).

One photo album revealed the dreams of my youth. A simple line: Will I ever have the ranch I dream of?

A few years back, I went horseback riding with my sister and a childhood friend. We reminisced of the days when we traveled everywhere on the back of a horse. And my friend marveled that I, of all people, would end up married to a computer-geek, Ontario man  and live in the most unlikely place to find this country girl: the San Francisco Bay Area. What is more, that I gave up horses in order to move to this unimaginable locale.

But God had a plan. You see, moving here meant following His leading, not my own desires. Obeying Him meant what seemed like a tremendous sacrifice on my part and most certainly one of the greatest steps of faith I'd ever taken. But the rewards are eternal. Because we moved, my husband received Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and eternal life. Because we moved, we became members of a church where each one of my children heard the clear presentation of the Gospel message and were surrounded by people who take a Biblical worldview. Because we moved, each one of my children not only heard the Gospel but received it. To God be all glory and honor and power.

Right now we are again in a place of waiting. God is setting the stage, moving the players, and preparing the script. Soon He will direct my family into a new path. And some sacrifices will be made. Some desires of our hearts changed. Some of our plans thwarted. But ultimately, following His leading will be the best and only choice.

What about you? How have you seen God direct your steps? How have you seen the "Destiny which has the control of our actions" at work in your life?

Friday, August 17, 2012

BERKELEY PLANTATION ~ The Rest of The Story By Janet Grunst


“The Rest Of The Story”

Front of Berkeley Plantation Mansion
Last month’s post introduced how the 8000 acre parcel that became Berkeley Plantation was acquired, settled, became the official site of the first Thanksgiving in America, and was purchased in the 18th century by the Harrison family.

William Henry Harrison - Our 9th President
Continuing the legacy at Berkeley Plantation, Benjamin Harrison V married Elizabeth Bassett with whom he had seven children. One son, William Henry Harrison was born at Berkeley Plantation, and though originally pursued a career in medicine he had military aspirations, and gained fame fighting the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. He later settled in Indiana and became Secretary to the Northwest Territories and its Delegate to Congress. He is probably better known as (until Ronald Reagan) the oldest man to be elected to the Presidency. Though he was our ninth President, it was of short duration. He gave a ninety minute speech at his inauguration on a cold damp day, not adequately dressed for the occasion and with no hat. He caught cold which went into pneumonia and he died thirty-two days later ― the first President to die in office.

Benjamin Harrison - Our 23rd Preisident
Notably, America’s first ten Presidents were guests at Berkeley Plantation. The grandson of William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison also served as our twenty-third President though he never lived at Berkeley as he was from Indiana

The Civil War

During the Civil War, Union troops under the command of General George B. McClellan along with 140,000 troops occupied Berkeley Plantation. That is a staggering number, but when you walk the estate’s vast lands it’s easier to imagine.

During the occupation, in the summer of 1862, Abraham Lincoln visited Berkeley Plantation twice to meet with General McClellan and review the troops. That same summer General Daniel Butterfield, a man who had risen through the ranks from Private in the New York State Militia to Major General and Chief of Staff of the Army of the Potomac, was encamped with McClellan at Berkeley. They had come through some very costly and difficult campaigns where many thousands of casualties took place.


Gen. Daniel Butterfield
One can imagine the chaos on a battlefield where thousands of men are attempting to take direction from their leaders. It was a common practice that Commanders had individualized bugle calls to minimize confusion among their troops. On July 2, 1862, while the troops were bivouacked at Harrison’s Landing at Berkeley, General Butterfield, despondent over the loss of so many men, charged Private Oliver Wilcox Norton, his bugler to alter his particular bugle sound, lengthening some notes and shortening others. The result ― “Taps”, probably the singularly most known and used bugle melody was born. For the past 150 years many have heard and associated those somber twenty-four notes as our national song of remembrance.

During the Civil War the third floor of the mansion served as a hospital and the basement as a prison.

After the Civil War the Harrison family was not able to regain ownership of Berkeley. It passed through several owners and fell into disrepair. Berkeley Plantation was bought in 1907 by a Scotsman, John Jamieson who ironically had served as a drummer boy in the Army under General McClellan. His son, Malcolm and his wife Grace have restored the plantation and mansion and filled it with beautiful 18th century antiques. Berkeley Plantation is still owned by the Jamieson family. Like many other waterfront Virginia Georgian homes, it has a center hall with the front door facing the drive and the back door facing the river.

Garden Path toward The James River
The Berkeley grounds are extensive and something to behold with its gardens and walkways. A wonderful fragrance emanates from the ten acres of formal terraced boxwood gardens overlooking farmland and extending a quarter mile to the James River. Although this national historic treasure is privately owned, it is open to the public.

Garden Path toward Back of Mansion
Chippendale Gazebo

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Christendom in the American Colonies During 17th Century

I love the 17th century because of the tremendous changes that happened within the spiritual realm of our Western World.

In earlier centuries, most people relied on the leadership of State Churches (Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, etc.) to tell them what to believe.

The pivotal factor to the change both in Europe and trickling into the American colonies was the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin. No longer did people need to rely on a priest or vicar to tell them what the Bible says. They could go to the source and form their own opinion.

Prior to the 17th century attempts made to translate the Bible into English were met with great opposition. However, by 1560 the Geneva Bible became the first English translation available to those not of the clergy and was used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Bunyan and many others. It was this version of the Bible that came with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, and it was the version used by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The mass production of this Bible included study guides and aids, making the Geneva Bible the first study Bible. The “apparatus” (what the guides and aids were called) seemed to threaten those in the Church of England and in particular King James I, who was baptized a Catholic. This, in part, led to the king commissioning another version now known as the King James Version, which would be free of the “apparatus”.

I draw attention to the Geneva Bible because it is foundational to understanding what ensued in the American colonies. The Bible played an important role in determining how many of these people lived, their culture, and their decision making.

Because the Geneva Bible was made available to the general public, people who in the past would never have been allowed to read Scripture were finding truths kept from them by both the Catholic Church and the Church of England, and they were interpreting these truths for themselves.

If you examine the rise of the Puritans, especially those who came to New England, you’ll discover many differences in the application of the precepts and principles they found in Scripture, as well as a struggle to reconcile church traditions with God’s Word.

You’ll discover people within the Massachusetts Bay Colony excommunicated, banished, whipped, and even executed because they opposed some leader of the Congregational Church on some doctrine.

Many of these persecuted people became instrumental in bringing to formation our current religious liberties.

To say the Puritans believed ‘this’ or ‘that’ might be correct for a handful of people and not for others. For example, Anne Hutchinson followed Rev. Cotton to the colony because his discourse on the “covenant of grace” appealed to her. However, she discovered that other preachers in the colony held to a “covenant of works” that she could not agree with. Eventually her beliefs led to her banishment from the colony. She and a group of people, including Dr. John Clarke, left to establish the settlement of Portsmouth, RI.

In my research of the colonies, I have discovered that there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the different faiths under the umbrella of Christendom by historians, part of which I am sure is do to the fact these historians may not fully comprehend the faith of the people and the details of their doctrines because they are not of that faith.

An example of this is Historian Brydon G. MacLaren, in his book Religious Life of Virginia in the Seventh Century. MacLaren was the historiographer of Diocese of Virginia, and he wrote this book in 1957. His perspective, therefore, is from the Church of England viewpoint. This would explain why he tended to lump all opposition to the Church of England as Calvinists. Indeed, most Protestant dissenters were Calvinist, but not all held to the same doctrines, especially when it came to the doctrines surrounding baptism. When I read him (and other historians) mention the Calvinists when they were referring to dissenters in general, I began to question the specifics of the people of whom they spoke.

For example, MacLaren claimed that the Reverend Henry Jacob “founded the first Independent or Baptist congregation in London.” Further research shows that Reverend Jacob could not have formed a Baptist congregation because he apparently still held to the doctrine of infant baptism, something Baptists strongly opposed. He also claimed that the Church of England was a true church needing reformation. A true Baptist would not have made such a claim.

When I research I look at who authored the history book, who was in power (both politically and religiously) when the public record was written, and the faith or perspective of the person’s diary/journal I m reading. Then I approach each record with “who, what, where, WHY, when, and how.” WHY is of particular importance. Motivations for writing a record can change how that record is interpreted.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

On a rare occasion I read a book that provokes me to deal with issues in my life, to dig deeper in my faith, to be reminded of God's tremendous love. Siri Mitchell's Love's Pursuit is one of those books.

This story is set in the 1640's Massachusetts Bay Colony, a Puritan settlement. One young woman desires marriage and another desires to be unseen. The struggles of their desires collide in a powerful story that reveals God's love and grace.

Susannah Phillips had her destiny mapped out, but fear of an Indian attack gripped the community changing the course of her future. One man she was to marry. Another who desired her. And yet another who challenged her to see life and faith differently than the Puritan she'd been born and raised to be. While threats to her safety and her future grow, she begins to see God in a different light.

Small-hope knew the danger Susannah faced, but fear held her captive. Having experienced abuse at the hands of men, Small-hope saw the signs, but did she have the courage to speak up? Her inner struggle contrasted that of Susannah's life and made Susannah's story that much more poignant.

Complex characters with genuine emotions and realistic conflicts drove this story. I related to them, cried with them, feared with them, and urged them on in their pursuits. These characters became a part of my life as I read.

17th Massachusetts Bay Colony was a time and place of great religious conflict. People had possession of the Scriptures and began to draw their own conclusions of what it said, often contrary to the colony's leadership. Siri did an excellent job of portraying how individuals at that time could come to their conclusions, even when they feared their leaders.

The setting of this story breeds opportunity to weave a spiritual theme. The people of this time and place lived and breathed faith. It would be impossible to write about the Puritans without touching upon their spiritual life. Siri did an excellent job of bringing the reader to the same conclusion as the main character.

After reading the last page, I leaned back in my chair and prayed that one day I might be able to write as Siri Mitchell. She is truly gifted, someone I could learn much from, and someone whom I wish I had the courage to ask to mentor me.

In my opinion, this is one of the best written books I've read on the market today.

If you enjoyed Francine Rivers Redeeming Love, you will enjoy Siri Mitchell's Love's Pursuit.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

God's Divine Favor on George Washington

By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho' death was levelling my companions on every side. 
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to John A. Washington, Jul. 18, 1755

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." II Corinthians 12:9

To study George Washington's life is to study the testimony of God's grace upon a man chosen by God to lead a world into the era of democracy.

God's favor rested upon George Washington. This we can see in the above quote. God had a plan and General Washington found grace in God's sight.

Have you ever considered what is entailed in God's grace? The word 'grace' means favor or the manifestation of favor by a superior. Usually we limit it to "For by grace are ye saved..." (Ephesians 2:8a). In other words, God's favor upon us to save us from our sins. But when you study grace from Genesis to Revelation you get a greater sense of what the word really means. A greater sense that grace is the favor God gives a person to have God's continual presence, to become His chosen to serve Him and live for Him.

George Washington served God in the manner God had laid out for him. Moses also did.

The children of Israel sinned before God when they made a golden calf to go before them.
"Up, make us gods, which shall go before us;..." Exodus 32:1b
"...and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 32:4
How grave a sin to claim a created thing (or as is tossed about in today's vernacular, the Universe) does for us what God does for us.

Moses interceded on their behalf. No doubt Moses sorrowed greatly. God removed Himself from the Israelites, and Moses took the tabernacle and pitched it outside of the camp. Then he entered it, and communed with God.

I imagine Moses thought back to when God called to him from the burning bush. God called him by name. God had a purpose for Moses, and God laid it out to him.
"And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Exodus 3:12
 I imagine Moses contemplated these words when he said,
"...Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight:..." Exodus 33:12b-13a
Moses wanted God's reassurance in Moses' calling. But what was he counting as God's grace, i.e. God's favor? First, the calling of him by God to serve God in leading the Israelites. Second, the opportunity to follow God's leading, because by following, Moses would know God more. And by knowing God more, Moses would receive more of God's favor.

When a sovereign grants a person the privilege of approaching the throne, it is a favor. What more favor could a sovereign grant someone then for that person to become his close friend, ever by his side? Moses sought that ultimate favor with God.
"What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1-2
How dare we think that grace simply means our sins are forgiven and therefore we are free from the eternal consequences of sin. Grace is the favor God showed to us to become His children, His servants, His new creation. What great honor He bestows upon us--like He bestowed on Moses, like He bestowed on George Washington--that we might be considered worthy of His presence in our lives; that we might be considered worthy of serving Him in His presence, of being a part of His great plan.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."  Romans 12:1-3
 God gave Paul the grace to serve Him. The grace given to Paul was his commission to preach the Gospel among the Gentiles. The privilege of following God's leading into dangerous places where Paul would see God's mighty work. The favor God showed Paul by revealing to him God's power to save lives: to save body, soul, and spirit.  And each time a person received the grace of God unto salvation, Paul received a greater understanding of the mystery of grace and the greatness of God's love.

How about you? Are you limiting grace to merely God freeing you from sin's eternal consequences? Or are you willing to experience the fulness of God's grace by walking in the presence of God; by letting God reveal to you His way for you; thereby allowing you to know Him more, and then enabling you to know more of God's grace?

Are you willing to experience the fulness of God's grace when you walk in His ways?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Port Royal Earthquake - judgement or random disaster?

You may remember Port Royal as a city in Jamaica that is mentioned in several pirate tales (my books included!)  You also may remember it from the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean!  But did you know that Port Royal suffered a devastating earthquake in 1692?  An earthquake from which it never recovered?  Most of us don't think of the Caribbean as a hotspot for earthquakes.

Founded in 1518, Port Royal was located on the southeastern coast of Jamaica. The Spaniards first came upon the beautiful bay in search of gold and silver, but upon finding none, enslaved the local Indians, the Arawaks, into farming sugar cane. They maintained control of the area until the English invaded in 1655, staking British claim to the island. By 1659, they had turned the city into a strategic military and naval base with over two hundred houses, shops, and warehouses surrounding the fort. It soon became the most important commercial center in the English colonies.

However it's safe harbor and easy access to Spanish shipping lanes, also drew pirates and the city soon became a haven for such nefarious figures as Henry Morgan and three-fingered Jack Rackham. The Governor, however, welcomed these "Brethren of the Coast" because they helped defend the city against the Spanish who were always trying to recapture it. Hence, by the 1660s, the city had gained a reputation as the Sodom of the New World and was deemed by some as the "wickedest city in the word". Most of the residents were pirates, cutthroats, and prostitutes. Charles Leslie, in his history of Jamaica described the pirates of Port Royal:
Wine and women drained their wealth to such a degree that... some of them became reduced to beggary. They have been known to spend 2 or 3,000 pieces of eight in one night; and one gave a strumpet 500 to see her naked. They used to buy a pipe of wine, place it in the street, and oblige everyone that passed to drink.
At it's peak, Port Royal had one drinking house for every 10 residents. By 1692, there were 6500 residents of every profession, all of whom lived in multi-story homes crammed into 51 acres of land all built entirely on sand.

On June 7th, 1692, somewhere around 11:00 AM, an earthquake struck Jamaica, causing the sand on which Port Royal was built to liquify and flow out into Kingston Harbor. Eye witnesses said they saw buildings slide into the water and others sink straight down.  Resultant aftershocks as well as a massive tsunami completely wiped out the town, killing an estimated 3000 people. The diseases that ran rampant afterward claimed another 2000 lives.

Dr. Emmanuel Heath, the Anglican rector in Port Royal, who was a survivor of the earthquake, believed this was a judgement from God and hoped it would stand as a warning that God would make these people of ill repute reform their lives. The Boston-based Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, believed God intended it as a warning to Christians everywhere.  "There never happens an earthquake, than that God speaks to men on earth."

Although attempts were made to rebuild the city, a fire and several hurricanes and flooding kept it from resurrecting as a prominent city ever again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fifes and Drums

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

On a recent visit to Massachusetts, I had the pleasure of listening to a Fife and Drum Corps from New York. I’m not sure what it is about the visceral pleasure of these ancient instruments, but they always stir something inside me. Perhaps that is why, for hundreds of years, fifes and drums were the instruments of choice to motivate armies on their way to battle. It is an inspiring and thrilling sound.

The first known use of these instruments in formation for battle was in Switzerland in the 15th century. The Germanic and French armies picked up on the usefulness of marching soldiers to the beat of musicians. But it wasn’t until 1714 that the English Army began to make use of a fife and drum corps to keep their troops focused and in order as they marched to battle. The Scottish troops utilized bagpipes and drums for their regiments.

The military pattern was to use one or two fifers and drummers for every 100 soldiers. When a company of 800 to 1,000 soldiers marched together, a fife and drum corps was banded together, consisting of anywhere from eight to forty musicians. The musicians were generally boys between ten and eighteen years of age.

The purposes of the musicians was not just to motivate the armies on long marches, but to broadcast signals for long distances. In the camp as well, daily signals alerted the troops to everything from wake up call (“Reveille”), to sick call (for those who were ill to get medical attention), to meals, to assemblies. There was a tune to gather wood or collect water. The soldiers assigned to these tasks were usually accompanied by a drummer to discourage desertion.

The tune for breakfast call was often “Pease Upon a Trencher” and for lunch or supper, “The Roast Beef.” Appropriate melodies for mealtimes!

The officer of the day was always accompanied by a drummer in order to sound the alarm in case of attack. “To Arms” sent the soldiers hustling to grab their gear and muskets, and form into their company.

Of course, if there was no danger and it was time for lights out, “Taptoo” (also called “Tattoo”) was played by the drummers and fifers marching through camp.

Fife and drum musicians were utilized throughout the American Revolution by both the British and Continental troops. This method of wartime communication continued right up until the Civil War when the bugle became the instrument of choice.

But in 1876, the centennial celebration of American Independence, the fondness to revive the use of fifes and drums for patriotic celebrations came alive. Since then, numerous companies of Fife and Drum Corps have sprung up, especially along the east coast from New England to Virginia.

Fort Ticonderoga formed its own corps in 1926, on the eve of the 150th celebration of American independence. They continue the tradition for such celebrations as the anniversary of the capture of that fort by Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys on May 10, 1775.

Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia formed their own Fife and Drum Corps in 1958. Boys and girls ages 14-18 participate in this wonderful display of colonial music.

In 1960, the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drums Corps became a part of the 3rd US Infantry. Traditionally known as the “Old Guard,” this infantry unit is the oldest active duty unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784. Click here to listen to their Fife and Drum Corps, now accompanied by a bugle. Huzzah!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marian Baay reviews Central Park Rendezvous a Novella Collection - MaryLu Tyndall

Central Park Rendezvous

Central Park Rendezvous 
by Ronie KendigDineen MillerKim Vogel Sawyer and MaryLu Tyndall
Barbour Publishing, 2012

Review by Marian Baay of MaryLu Tyndall's novella

5 stars *****

Beauty from Ashes by MaryLu Tyndall
Civil War, 1865
Permelia and Annie Shaw are sisters who live on the Shaw Plantation. Their parents died during the Civil War and their brother is serving in the Army. Annie is engaged to Wiliam Wolfe, colonel in the Army. When he left he gave Annie the coin with the inscription 'Love Never Fails W W'. He's been gone for years and Annie gave up on William and found a new boyfriend. She stopped writing to William and tossed the coin out of the window. Her sister Permelia found the coin and started writing letters to William. William thought Annie was writing the letters and he discovered that she has more depth than he thought. He started to fall in love with this new Annie. 

When the war is over he rushes over to the Shaw Plantation and wonders what Annie will think of his injury--burn marks on the right side of his face. When Annie sees them she is shocked and she cannot make herself look at him. Permelia is shocked too, but she is not afraid to look at him or his scars. What he sees in her eyes is confusing him.

Annie is hiding in her room for two days and Permelia is trying to encourage Annie to come out and meet William. When she finally meets him she can't look him in the eyes or to his injured face. William finds out that she sounds so much different than she did in her letters. He also finds out that he is no longer attracted to her, but Permelia makes his heart race.

A Wolfe is man of his word and he promised to marry Annie, so he still intends to do so.

When Annie's other lover comes calling, she must make a decision, but she doesn't. Who will she finally choose? What will William do when he finds out who wrote the letters? Who will meet William on New Year's day on the Bow Bridge?

This was a tremendous read! I loved to see all the novellas get connected to each other. Ronie Kendig's Dream a Little Dream is split up in four parts and is told between the other three novellas. Jamie and Sean's story each time develops further after they have learned more about the Wolfe family (after another novella). Will they also find love?

All novellas center around the Bow Bridge in Central Park - William Wolfe's coin with inscription 'Love Never Fails' - in each story someone is struggling to trust God and in each story a man goes or went to war.

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy.*

Guest Bio: Marian is international reviewer for Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help where she will be reviewing the other three novellas in two weeks.  She lives in the Netherlands and is a lector for Kok Publishing.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email to be entered in this week’s contest.  Drawing will be late Saturday.  Paperback copy of this book*. Void where prohibited by law. *No International winners for this drawing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Travel Mercies

Carrie and son at Valley Forge, PA

Would you join me today in praying for travel mercies for those people driving, flying, bicycling, or riding the rails this week?  We just returned from a road trip to Philadelphia and then back via Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then down through Baltimore-DC and then the back way home, through Rappahanock and Tappahanock, where George Washington grew up.  Got to see Valley Forge on the way, too!

Father, keep our loved ones safe, bring healing to those injured in their travels, put your angels around them and bring peace in the midst of the journeys.  In Jesus's precious name, Amen!